gut [a fish]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by dcx97, Jan 13, 2018.

  1. dcx97 Banned

    Hindi - India

    Does "to gut" also mean "to remove the bones of"? That's the impression I got from the last panel of the attached comic strip.

    Thanks in advance.

    Relevant text, copied by Cagey, moderator.

    The Calvin (a young boy) has caught a fish.
    Dad: I’ll show you how to clean it and we’ll have it for dinner.
    Calvin: Clean it?
    Dad: Cut off its head and gut it.

    [Next scene: Calvin is sitting at a table, and he asks for a cheese sandwich. ]
    Calvin: Ha ha, no bones in these, right?
    [End of the strip.]

    Source: the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbs".

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2018
  2. boozer Senior Member

    I got the impression that, because 'gut' does not mean to remove the bones, the kid now wants a cheese sandwich that has no bones, most likely because the fish did have bones... :)
  3. Uncle Jack

    Uncle Jack Senior Member

    Cumbria, UK
    British English
    To add to boozer's reply, the verb to remove guts is 'gut'. Unsurprisingly, the verb to remove bones is 'bone' and the verb to remove skin is 'skin'. Two or all three of these verbs can be used in the same sentence with the same subject and object, and it is usual for each one that applies to be used. If dad was going to bone the fish as well, he'd have said 'gut and bone it' (or 'gut it and bone it').
  4. Barque Senior Member

    I got the impression Calvin was excited about the fact of having caught a fish but hadn't thought further ahead, about the prospect of eating it.

    The idea of eating something he'd just caught and seen live, and then gutted by his father, coupled with the fact that it had bones, made him prefer a more familiar cheese sandwich.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
  5. dcx97 Banned

    Hindi - India
    I still don't understand why Calvin joked about there being no bones in the fish in the last panel.
  6. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    He didn't. He said there were no bones in the cheese, implying there had been bones in the fish. Dad had probably tried to remove most of the bones as part of the cleaning process, but a few remained.
  7. dojibear

    dojibear Senior Member

    Fresno CA
    English - Northeast US
    When you "gut" a fish you remove all the parts that will not be eaten, including the bones and the internal organs ("guts"). That is what Calvin's father meant when he said he was going to gut the fish. After that, the fish can be cooked and eaten.

    In the final panel, it looks like everyone is eating cheese sandwiches. That probably means the father failed in his attempts to cleanly gut the fish (remove all the bones and internal organs, while keeping the muscle meat undamaged) and the fish was thrown out, not eaten for dinner.

    Calvin is "rubbing it in"about the father's failure (reminding his father about it), by saying the cheese sandwiches had no bones to remove.
  8. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    British English
    I disagree about gutting meaning boning too. They are different processes. If I want fish without bones I have to ask for fillets.
    That was a very small fish. I think the joke's as much about the myth, the sentimental but unrealistic notion of eating something you've caught which of course, has to be far superior to anything manufactured and processed.
  9. velisarius

    velisarius Senior Member

    British English (Sussex)
    I agree with Hermione and others. Boning takes the process one step further. Sometimes it's done before cooking but, unless were're talking about fish fillets, the gutting process doesn't include removing the bones or the skin. I might include removal of the gills and/or head in "gutting", depending on the type of fish.
  10. dcx97 Banned

    Hindi - India
    I see. But then why did Calvin bring up bones in the last panel?
  11. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    English - US
    1) Cheese has no bones, guts, scales, skin, slime coating, blood, eyes, fins, tails, or anything else that we (Westerners, and particularly our children) are not used to eating that a freshly caught fish has. Many children have never eaten a fish that has been cooked with the head and fins still on it. Bones is merely representative of all of that.
    2) For many types of fish, it is nearly impossible to remove all of the bones. You should always be aware when eating fish that there might be a bone in it no matter how much you trust the person who prepared the fish. You don't have to worry about that with cheese.
  12. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    British English
    Myridon's reponse could hardly be bettered!

    I still think there's a further dimension to the humour, something to do with father/son bonding, the great outdoors, back to nature, 'manliness', survival in the wildernesss, and I really don't know what else ... .
    I need to know who made those sandwiches! I bet it was his mom.

    I lovingly bought and cooked a whole, gutted, small sea-bass the other day, only because Lord Golightly is very keen on fish. He especially loves fish with their heads on and and those awful dead eyes. They were on special offer or I'd have bought fillets. I cook, he serves. I knew he'd just love the ritual of 'taking the fish off the bone'.
    He did it well enough, but I still found a few pesky bones. 'Dying by fish bone' is on my list of silly ways to die. The actual 'eating whole fish' experience wasn't worth it.
    I can see that actually catching your own fish, or any other 'hunting for food' activity, is thrilling, and is a different experience from buying it in the supermarket.
    Ostrich steak is very good indeed. If I had to (somehow) kill the bird and prepare it for eating, I very much doubt I'd be happy to eat it. That's what I feel about all meat in fact.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  13. dcx97 Banned

    Hindi - India
    Interesting! Thank you for sharing your experiences.
  14. princeofdarkness Banned

    Russian - Russia

    What does "cheese sandwiches" refer to here? I don't think he means it literally.

    Thank you.

    Attached Files:

  15. Yes, he does. He's squeamish after learning what 'cleaning a fish' involves and is pretending that he's worried about finding a fish bone in his mouth.

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